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Psalm 21:12

ESV For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows.
NIV You will make them turn their backs when you aim at them with drawn bow.
NASB For You will make them turn their back; You will take aim at their faces with Your bowstrings.
CSB Instead, you will put them to flight when you ready your bowstrings to shoot at them.
NLT For they will turn and run when they see your arrows aimed at them.
KJV Therefore shalt thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make ready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of them.

What does Psalm 21:12 mean?

The congregation continues to pray in celebration of their confidence (Psalm 21:8–11). They are entirely convinced that because God favors David, his enemies have no chance of success. Psalm 91:14–15 promises victory for those who trust in the Lord, but especially for the Messiah. These verses state: "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him."

The phrase translated "aim at their faces" enhances the reference to enemies turning to run away. It's one thing to imagine an enemy turning to run from a conflict. However, the people praying here expect a more immediate, fearful response: the way a person might react to having a drawn bow aimed directly at their face. This evokes the image of someone reacting in reflexive, immediate fear.

The Devil is the believers' most ferocious enemy. He prowls around like a lion seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), but we can put him to flight, just as David put his enemies to flight. The way to do this is to "resist him, firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:9). The "faith" is the body of doctrine given to us in the Bible. The better we know and obey the Bible, the more resistant to the Devil we are!
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